Thursday, 16 December 2021
Department of Finance
Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
115. To ask the Minister for Finance his plans to convert the current employment wage subsidy scheme into a permanent, remodelled short-time work scheme in view of the continued impact of Covid-19; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [62144/21]
The objective of the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) is to support employment and maintain the link between the employer and employee insofar as is possible. The EWSS has been a key component of the Government’s response to the Covid-19 crisis. It is an economy-wide scheme that operates across all sectors.
In monetary terms, the overall support provided to-date (9th December) by EWSS is over €6.6 billion comprising direct subsidy payments of almost €5.73 billion and PRSI forgone of €902 million to 51,700 employers in respect of over 696,900 employees.
The Government decided on Thursday last (9th December), that the enhanced rates of EWSS subsidy would apply for a further two months, December 2021 and January 2022. This will give certainty to businesses when they need it most. Amendments to the Finance Bill 2021 were brought forward this week to give effect to this change.
For the longer term, the Deputy may wish to note that the Government's Pathways to Workstrategy, which was published last July, contains a specific commitment on the issue of a new short-time work support scheme in the following terms:
“Commitment 44: Building on the EWSS/TWSS and drawing on existing international models, explore the possibility of introducing a new Short-Time Work Support scheme to enable employers retain people on their payroll in response to short-duration shocks to employment*.
*Consider of a range of international short-time work support schemes such as the German ‘Kurzarbeit’ and the French ‘Chômage partiel / activité partielle’."
In this regard, work has begun at senior official level on an inter-departmental basis to address this as part of a broader exercise to review the experience from the introduction and operation of Covid-19 emergency income supports paid to/in respect of people whose employment was impacted due to public health restrictions, and to identify lessons learnt. My Department is represented on the relevant group which is chaired by the Department of Social Protection and also includes representatives from the Departments of Public Expenditure and Reform and Enterprise Trade and Employment and from the Office of the Revenue Commissioners.